Better housing and medical facilities needed in Gjoa Haven, witnesses say

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Health experts make recommendations during investigation into the shooting death of Charles Qirngnirq in 2016

Better trained nurses, access to medical supplies and improved housing could help residents of Gjoa Haven who experience medical emergencies or mental distress, witnesses said at a coroner’s inquest on Wednesday.

The investigation into the shooting death of Charles Qirngnirq in 2016 by an RCMP officer continued into its third day with several expert witnesses offering recommendations that they believe could help prevent similar deaths in the future. .

Michelle Paul was the head nurse at the Gjoa Haven health center when Qirngnirq was brought in after being shot then-Const. Ian Crowe, December 19, 2016. Qirngnirq, who was armed with a rifle, was shot because police believed he was a threat to them when they encountered him near the airport, Crowe said Tuesday.

Paul testified that due to the massive trauma suffered by Qirngnirq from the gunshot wound, there was not much more that the medics at the scene could have done differently to save his life that day. -the. She did, however, give recommendations on what might help the health center cope with similar situations in the future.

“I think it would be very helpful to pay more attention to the skills of the nurses who are arriving.

“There’s always such a mix of it,” she said. Having a say in who comes to the health center to work could help staff respond more effectively to specific community needs, she added.

“We are in the best position to understand the level of acuity and disease in these communities. Gjoa Haven was one of those communities that had very sick babies and accidents that happened, so [assessing] the skill base of those who come to work… is better for everyone, ”she said.

“I’ve been in situations in Gjoa Haven, in particular, where we didn’t even have a survival pack at one point,” she said, referring to a defibrillator. “The process of getting them to Gjoa Haven, even on a good day, can be quite difficult, so get the equipment to us in a timely manner. [would be helpful], “she explained.

Throughout the investigation, several witnesses also said that Qirngnirq made suicidal comments on the day he died, and his family members said they feared he might harm himself.

Better housing options could improve mental health issues in the community, the RCMP Corporal said. Eric Beaulieu, who has been stationed at Gjoa Haven since 2019. Previously, he was stationed at Coral Harbor and had been responsible for suicide prevention with the RCMP in Alberta.

“I think the biggest mental health problem… is the lack of housing,” Beaulieu said. “What can you ask of someone who puts three or four families in a house because they have to wait six years to get a house? “

He said more housing needs to be built in Nunavut to help ease the pressures on families living so closely together. Otherwise, he doesn’t see mental health issues “going away anytime soon,” he said.

The investigation into Qirngnirq’s death is expected to end on Friday. A jury will deliberate and render a verdict on the facts of the case and consider recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances.

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